Sterling to fight Clippers sale, proceed with $1B NBA lawsuit
(CNN) — The deal is off. The suit is on.
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is withdrawing his support for the sale of his team, and is asking his lawyer to go ahead with a $1 billion lawsuit against the NBA, according to multiple media reports.
“From the onset, I did not want to sell the Los Angeles Clippers,” Sterling said in a letter obtained by ESPN.com.
Referring to the NBA commissioner, Sterling added, “I believe that Adam Silver acted in haste by illegally ordering the forced sale of the Clippers, banning me for life from the NBA and imposing the fine. … The action taken by Adam Silver and the NBA constitutes a violation of my rights and fly in the face of the freedoms that are afforded to all Americans.”
CNN has reached out to both the Sterling camp and the NBA for comment.
It is precisely such a move that had Silver wary of the litigious Sterling.
“He’s unsold his club several times over the years,” Silver told CNN’s Rachel Nichols in an exclusive interview this week.
“There’s well-noted incidents in the league when he was right there at a closing and at the last minute decided not to sell.”
Sterling, 80, has been embroiled in controversy since a recording of a conversation with friend V. Stiviano revealed he made a series of racist comments.
The comments spawned outrage among NBA players, executives and fans. The commissioner fined Sterling $2.5 million and pushed to terminate all of his ownership rights in the franchise.
Almost two weeks ago, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer laid down a $2 billion offer to buy the Clippers. Sterling’s estranged wife and co-owner of team, Shelly, agreed to sell the franchise to Ballmer. Sterling had agreed to the sale.
By Holly Yan
CNN’s Dave Alsup and Kevin Conlon contributed to this report